Is Bringing Your Spouse to the US a Lengthy Process?

Long-term separation from your spouse is always emotionally challenging. If you are an American citizen or green card holder and your spouse is a foreign citizen, you may have many questions about how you can permanently reunite your family in the United States. Our helpful family-based immigration lawyers at Sessoms Law Group can explain what actions you will need to take to begin the immigration process for your spouse and how long it may take before they can legally come to the US.

As with most government processes, immigration timeframes vary significantly, and every case is unique. However, having a general idea of the processing times can help you know what to expect when you submit your petition. If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to contact our law firm for personalized information and guidance.

What Forms and Documents Are Necessary for Your Petition?

Foreign spouses of US citizens and green card holders are eligible to obtain an immigration visa or green card to come live permanently in the US. To begin the immigration process for their spouse, the US citizen or green card holder must file form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with the USCIS. The person filing the petition is known as the “petitioner,” and their foreign spouse is called the “beneficiary.” The petitioner will need to provide all information and documentation requested by the form to prove their citizenship, the identity of their spouse, and the legitimacy of their relationship.

It is vital to ensure that your documentation is complete and your forms are filled out correctly to avoid any unnecessary delays in processing your I-130 petition. It costs $535 to file your petition with the USCIS, so major mistakes that result in a denial can be expensive. Consulting with a skilled immigration lawyer from the start of the process can help you steer clear of significant errors in your petition, which may lead to a faster reunification with your spouse.

What is the Timeline for Bringing a Spouse to the US?

The exact time it takes to bring your spouse to the US depends on many factors and can fluctuate from year to year. An immigration lawyer can provide you with a more specific estimate of the current processing times for petitions based on the information provided by the USCIS.

However, it is possible to make general estimates on the timeline for your petition. According to the USCIS, historical processing times for the I-130 have increased over the past five years, from a median processing time of 7.6 months in 2018 to 12.2 months in 2023. Exactly how long you and your spouse can expect to wait depends heavily on whether the petitioner is a US citizen or a green card holder.

Spouses of US Citizens

The I-130 petitions for the spouses of US citizens are given priority in processing by the USCIS. These petitions are usually processed within five to twelve months after submission but may take over two years. As of July 2023, the USCIS reports that 80% of US citizen Alien Relative Petitions across all field offices are completed within 28 months.

Spouses of Green Card Holders

The USCIS tends to experience backlogs of petitions for the immediate family members of green card holders, such as spouses. The impact of these backlogs on processing times can vary from region to region and is affected by staffing, budgets, and other factors. Generally, green card holders can expect their petition to take anywhere from 6 to 36 months. The USCIS reports that 80% of these petitions are being completed within 37 months across all field offices as of July 2023.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Immigration Visa for Your Spouse Once the I-130 Petition is Approved?

Getting your I-130 processed and approved is just one part of bringing your spouse to the US. Once you receive a notification that your petition has been approved, your case will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will check your documentation and provide you with information on how you and your spouse must complete the immigration process through consular processing.

The details and timeline of this step will vary based on your citizenship status, your spouse’s nationality, and the availability of a visa number. Your spouse must also complete a scheduled interview at their country’s consulate and get medically cleared to obtain their visa.

What Are the Advantages of Consulting With a Knowledgeable Immigration Attorney?

Immigration forms and processes can be complex and time-consuming. A well-versed immigration lawyer can help you understand your options, ensure your paperwork is in order, and assist you if any issues arise. At Sessoms Law Group, we know how important it is to have your family together in the US. We are here to answer your questions and guide you through every step of the process so you can make reunification with your spouse a reality as soon as possible. Contact our law firm today to discuss your situation with a compassionate family immigration lawyer: 678-853-7402.